The full sequence of the Big Incwala
Dispersing of regiments (Tingaja). Unmarried male youths set off from Engabezweni Royal residence and march 50km to cut branches of the sacred shrub (lusekwane) under the light of the full moon, accompanied by Emabutfo.
Dropping the Lusekwane: the boys place their luse4kwane branches in the national cattle byre. The elders weave these branches in between poles of the “inhlambelo”, the King’s private sanctuary.
Morning: Young boys cut branches of the black “Imbondvo”
(red bush willow/combretum apiculatum) and these are added to the “Inhlambelo.”
Afternoon: A bull charges out, the Lusekwane boys catch and overpower the beast and return it to the sanctuary.
Main Day: All the key players perform in a spectacular pageant inside the cattle byre; the King and the regiments appear in full war-dress and dance to a number of songs. Then he emerges to throw the sacred gourd (Luselwa), which is caught on a black shield by one of the Lusekwane boys.
Day of Abstinence: The King sits in seclusion in the “great hut”. The “bemanti” roam the royal capital in daylight hours, enforcing the rules of this day. No sexual contact, bathing, wearing decorations, sitting on chairs/mats, shaking hands, scratching, singing and dancing.
Day of the Log: The regiments march to a forest and return with firewood. The elders prepare a great fire in the centre of the cattle byre. On it, certain objects are burnt, signifying the end of the old year, while the key players dance and sing inside the cattle byre. The king remains in seclusion until the next full moon, when the “Lusekwane” branches are removed and burnt.
Do’s and Don’ts of the Incwala
· Females should wear skirts or sarongs
· Men should not wear hats or any head gear that is not traditional
· Shoes are worn at the ceremony but not on the dance arena
· Do take pictures at the ceremony but not of the Inhlambelo (king’s private sanctuary)
· Please use restrooms
· Do sing, dance, encourage and uphold unity amongst Swazis
· Do inform friends and tourists of prohibitions during Incwala.https://www.thekingdomofeswatini.com/eswatini-experiences/events/incwala-festival/